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Diaz v. United States (223 U.S. 442)

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United States Supreme Court

223 U.S. 442

Diaz  v.  United States

 Argued: November 16, 1911. --- Decided: February 19, 1912

[Syllabus from pages 442-444 intentionally omitted]

On May 30, 1906, at San Carlos, province of Occidental Negros, Philippine Islands, Gabriel Diaz, by blows and kicks, inflicted bodily injuries upon Cornelio Alcanzaren, and by reason thereof was the next day charged before the justice of the peace of San Carlos with assault and battery. At the hearing upon that charge Diaz was found guilty of a misdemeanor and fined 50 pesetas and costs, which he paid. Subsequently, on the 26th of June, Alcanzaren died, and Diaz was then charged before the same justice of the peace with homicide, it being alleged that the death ensued from the bodily injuries. At the preliminary investigation of this charge, the justice concluded that there was reasonable cause to believe that it was well founded, and accordingly held the accused to await the action of the court of first instance. There was then filed in that court a complaint charging Diaz with the crime of homicide, not capital, upon which he subsequently was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to a term of imprisonment and other penalties.

When called upon to plead in the court of first instance, Diaz interposed a plea of former jeopardy, supported by a copy of the record of the proceedings before the justice of the peace upon the charge of assault and battery and at the preliminary investigation, but the plea was overruled. Then, during the trial, his counsel introduced in evidence the record of those proceedings. In doing this the counsel spoke only of 'the proceedings in the case for a misdemeanor,' but it otherwise appears that what was meant was the record of both proceedings. Both were embraced in a single document, authenticated by a single certificate, and it clearly is disclosed that counsel on both sides and the court treated the entire document as in evidence. It embraced the testimony produced before the justice at the hearing upon the assault and battery charge and at the preliminary investigation, including the personal statement of the accused and the report of an autopsy, upon the body of the deceased, performed conformably to the Philippine law; and it was partly upon this testimony that the court of first instance rested its judgment of conviction.

On two occasions, covering the examination and cross-examination of two witnesses for the government, Diaz, who was at large on bail, voluntarily absented himself from the trial, but consented that it should proceed in his absence, but in the presence of his counsel, which it did.

Following his conviction, Diaz prosecuted an appeal to the supreme court of the Philippines, where, subject to a change made in the term of imprisonment (see Trono v. United States, 199 U.S. 521, 50 L. ed. 292, 26 Sup. Ct. Rep. 121, 4 A. & E. Ann. Cas. 773; Flemister v. United States, 207 U.S. 372, 52 L. ed. 252, 28 Sup. Ct. Rep. 129), the conviction was sustained (15 Philippine, 123) and the case was then brought here.

Messrs. Frederic R. Coudert and Howard Thayer Kingsbury for plaintiff in error.

Solicitor General Lehmann for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 445-448 intentionally omitted]

Mr. Justice Van Devanter, after stating the case as above, delivered the opinion of the court:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).